24 January 2008

Vroom Vroom Beep Beep

Canadians revving up car culture: StatsCan
CBC.ca - -
WINNIPEG (CBC) - More Canadians are relying on their cars as their exclusive means of transportation, owing to an increase in suburban construction far from the downtown cores, according to a Statistics Canada study released Tuesday.

The study, which examined the travel habits of Canadians in one given day, found that 74 per cent of Canadian adults said they made all their trips - as either a driver or a passenger - by car in 2005. By comparison, 70 per cent of Canadians reported they travelled everywhere by car in 1998 while 68 per cent said the same in 1992.

In the study, Statistics Canada analyst Martin Turcotte links the growing car culture to the development of new low-density communities built since 1991. Statistics Canada characterizes low-density communities as those in which two-thirds of the housing units are single, semi-detached and mobile homes.

"There are very clear links between living in a peripheral neighbourhood and depending on the automobile as the primary mode of transportation for day-to-day travel," he said in the study, which culled data from the 2005 General Social Survey.

"The farther people live from the city centre, the more time they spend behind the wheel."

Meanwhile, the percentage of people over the age of 18 travelling by foot or bicycle has decreased from 26 per cent in 1992 to 19 per cent in 2005, Turcotte said.

The federal agency also found that 77 per cent of Calgarians and 75 per cent of Edmontonians travelled exclusively by car as either a driver or a passenger, largely because of the cities' low-density neighbourhoods.

By comparison, 65 per cent of Montrealers relied solely on their cars. In smaller urban centres, 75 per cent of people living in the downtown core made all their trips by car.

The study also found that 80 per cent of people living in low-density areas made at least one trip behind the wheel of the car, compared to less than 50 per cent of people living in high-density neighbourhoods.

Differences between the sexes were also observed, with 81 per cent of men reporting they drove their vehicles at least once during the day, compared to 66 per cent of women. The study suggests the difference is likely linked to higher numbers of women being passengers in cars and reliant on public transit.

This posting generated a lot of reaction on the 'Your View' boards. Lots of opinions and I agree that taxing those that have to drive these long commutes is probably a bit unfair. There are lots of reasons people move to far-flung suburbia. My point there was that maybe when it comes to our impact on the environment, we can't have and shouldn't think we are entitled to have everything. People started talking about people proposing tolls or taxes to restrict traffic congestion as as socialists who hate freedom. Really? When we're forced into a police state due to unaffordable gas prices, failing economic system and a devastated environment, all that freedom really ended up for shit, didn't it? Taxes is wrong. High gas prices are what is need to curb consumption. This will be coming soon enough, without the influence of government!

Residents of Edmonton, Calgary rely on their cars more than other Canadians: study
The Canadian Press - By Lorrayne Anthony, The Canadian Press

Edmontonians and Calgarians feel the need hop into their cars to get around more than folks in other large, urban areas, a new study found.

Seventy-seven per cent of Edmonton residents and 75 per cent of those living in Calgary relied on their cars to make all their trips on the day they were surveyed, a Statistics Canada study reported Tuesday.

Those least likely to use their cars for every trip were people living in Montreal (65 per cent), Toronto (66 per cent) and Vancouver (69 per cent).

"We have these older urban neighbourhoods in the downtown core of the larger cities - the best example is Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver - where ... there is a mix of use. Both residential and commercial use in the same area, which makes it easier for people to walk," said Statistics Canada researcher and author of the study Martin Turcotte. "That's not the case in newer suburbs."

People in other cities fell somewhere between: Seventy-four per cent of those in Quebec City, 72 per cent of Winnipeggers and 72 per cent of those living in Ottawa-Gatineau used cars for every trip. Of those living in smaller metropolitan areas - St. John's, N.L., Sherbroke, Que., Sudbury, Ont., Regina and Abbotsford, B.C. - 75 per cent of residents travelled exclusively by car.

The study, done in 2005, examined the use of motor vehicles for everyday trips such as commuting and running errands by people aged 18 and older in census metropolitan areas.

"I got my licence the day after I turned 16," said Paula Cocciolo, a 17-year-old Calgarian, who drives a car to school every day. "I hate public transit. It's dirty and I don't feel safe. I just don't like it."

She explained that her family of four each take a car to their daily activities: Her older brother, a student at the University of Calgary, drives to class every day, her mom drives to work and her father drives to the train station, where then takes public transit to work. Cocciolo said that in the spring and summer, more people in Calgary bike or in-line skate their way through the day's activities, but when the cold sets in people reach for their car keys.

The mercury drops in Montreal as well, but there were striking differences between people who lived in central neighbourhoods in that city and those living in central neighbourhoods elsewhere. Twenty-nine per cent of Montrealers living within five kilometres of the city centre went everywhere by car, compared with 43 per cent in Toronto, 56 in Vancouver and 66 in Calgary.

The study looked at metropolitan areas, which for the report were categorized as consisting of one or more adjacent municipalities situated around a major urban core. The study revealed a clear relationship between dependence on cars and the housing density of neighbourhoods.

Over 80 per cent of residents of very low-density neighbourhoods - at least two-thirds of the dwellings are single, semi-detached and mobile homes or "traditional suburban dwellings" - made at least one trip by car during the day. In contrast, less than half of people living in very high-density neighbourhoods - where less than one-third of the dwellings are traditional suburban dwellings - did so. The association between density and the use of cars varied depending on the distance from the city centre. Residents living less than 10 kilometres from the city centre were more likely to use their car for all trips if they lived in a lower-density "suburban-type" neighbourhood than a high-density neighbourhood.

More than 10 km from the city centre, however, the impact of neighbourhood density on automobile use dwindled until it almost vanished. This reflects the complicated interaction between housing density and distance from the city centre, Turcotte said. Usually, many locations in suburban neighbourhoods are zoned only for residential construction. As a result, places such as shopping centres, recreation centres, office buildings and other places of work become difficult to reach on foot or by public transit, the study reported.

In contrast, it found the central neighbourhoods of large cities are generally characterized by a greater mix of uses and by greater density, two conditions that favour public transportation and travel on foot.

Age and sex are among the factors that have a substantial impact on the probability of driving. On the question that was asked, 81 per cent of Canadian men aged 18 and over made at least one trip behind the wheel of a car. The corresponding figure for women was just 66 per cent. This difference is probably attributable to the fact that women are more likely to take public transit and that they are often passengers when they travel by car, the study reported.

Baby boomers between ages 45 and 54 were particularly likely to have driven their cars during the day. When the density of the neighbourhood of residence and the other factors were kept constant, the odds that people aged 45 to 54 drove a car on all the trips they made in a given day was 2.5 times higher than the odds for 18-to 24-year-olds. Similarly, people with children aged 5 to 12 also had odds 1.6 times higher than people without children that age to have driven on at least one trip.

Calgary and Edmonton are newer cities thus much more car-oriented. They also have the ability to spread out and out (not like Vancouver), thus the urban planners have had no impetus to build in any other way than a way to generate more and more income from a bigger tax base that becomes more and more dependent on a form of transportation that is soon going to become prohibitively expensive, particular for the lower and lower middle classes.


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see how these statistics compare with similar cities in USA. With all our smugness about being more environmentally responsible than Americans, I'm not sure we actually are. At my company headquarters in San Bruno, CA, over half of the people take BART or Caltrans to work. San Bruno is 15 miles from downtown SF with plenty of free parking at the office. Does more than 50% of a typical Calgary company commute by public transit, especially when parking is cheap?


MB said...

If you ever hear a Canadian laud about how superior they are to Americans in environmental protection, slap them in the back of the head to shut them up, otherwise they'll just be making us all sound like idiots.